New Dane County monkeypox clinics struggle to keep up with demand

MADISON, Wis. — Public Health Madison and Dane County launched its new monkeypox vaccine clinics Monday, but PHMDC says it is having some trouble keeping up with demand.

“The current appointments filled up within the first day or two of us opening up appointments and taking those calls from folks,”  said Morgan Finke, a spokesperson for PHMDC. “We’ve gotten a lot of calls and we’re currently making our way through that list and reserving appointments for individuals as they become available.”

The two-dose vaccine is being given by appointment only, with appointments only available inside a two-hour window each weekday in several clinics around Dane County. The clinics are currently able to vaccinate 40 people against monkeypox per week, and officials are hoping that number will increase as they receive more vaccines. Right now, appointments are completely booked for the next two weeks, but Public Health is hoping to make even more appointments available soon.

It’s a matter of using the resources that we have available both with the amount of doses that we’ve received and our staffing capacity to make sure that we are reaching the demand as much as possible,” said Finke. “As the state receives more vaccines from the federal government, I do see that we will continue to adjust our availability and our capacity as we are able to based on what we have available to us.”

Because the virus is spreading mainly among gay and bisexual men, many in the LGBTQ community have been waiting for their chance to get the vaccine for monkeypox.

“Especially given the experiences of Covid vaccination and stuff, people in the community understand the importance of getting vaccinated as a preventative measure,” said AJ Hardie, the program director at OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center in Madison.

Hardie says some are frustrated with the low supply but are hopeful now that more should become available soon.

“I think that there’s been some frustration with the low availability of it right now, but also understanding that Public Health of Madison and Dane County and then also the Wisconsin DHS has been really upfront and transparent about the fact that there will be a lot more coming,” said Hardie.

In general, catching monkeypox is a low risk for most people. While monkeypox is very unlikely to cause death, those in high-risk categories are still looking for any protection they can get.

“There’s a very low likelihood of dying from monkeypox, but it’s tremendously painful, requires a really long isolation period, and it’s a really intense isolation as well because you’re not even able to be around your pets,” said Hardie.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services currently only recommends the vaccine for a few groups, and research has shown that the smallpox vaccine is somewhat effective in protecting against monkeypox.

Who is eligible for the monkeypox vaccine in Wisconsin?

  • People who know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • People who attended an event or venue where there was known monkeypox exposure.
  • Gay men, bisexual men, trans men and women, and any men who have sex with men, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days.

How to make an appointment in Dane County:

  • Call (608) 266-4821 to make an appointment at a Dane County clinic.
  • Subscribe to Public Health Madison and Dane County’s monkeypox email list to find out when new appointments become available.